Rain On the Hood

Photo submitted by Kylie Tun

Pagnarath Tun shown in a family photo
By Kylie Tun

Finally, it was my Tuesday with Dad. It only happened once a month. Tonight was my night to spend, just my dad and I. After he got out of work, he came to pick me up and it was dark outside. I swallowed hard as I climbed into his F-150 pickup truck. It was so dark that you could barely tell that it was white. Climbing up high into the front seat was always a task for me. I watched him as he welcomed me into the car by moving his things off the seat. He always had two hands on the wheel, looking forward, almost mechanically. Tonight was the night. I knew that I had to do it. My heart was starting to pound, and I felt as though I might pass out.

He pulled out of the gravel driveway and I let the shocks of the car sway me from side to side. Sinking into the chair, I watched the rain drops race each other on my passenger window. One by one, the raindrops would come together to move faster, or pull apart and become stationary. The silence was gnawing at my nerves, the pounding of water on his hood was the only thing I could hear. It felt amplified in my ears, and I had to make it stop.

“Dad…can we talk?” I managed to get out.

“What is it, Kylie?” he asked me skeptically, yet somewhat thoughtfully. My breath began to quicken as I tried to find the words, and nothing came out. I fell silent, which is rare for me. At that moment, all I wanted was for him to be honest with me, to confide in me about the truths of which I was already aware. I watched my father sit upright in his chair, driving towards a home of his own. Even with his dark-toned skin at night, you could see he was getting older. Subtle wrinkles were finding their way to my father’s face in unwanted places. Though he was getting older, and it was noticeable to me, he still looked remarkable for a man of his age. More than anything, they were signs of living his life, more than stress and worries. I had to pull myself back to the task at hand.

“I just feel like there’s something you’re not telling me, and I don’t want you to keep any secrets,” I stated, feeling even more anxious than before.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Kylie. What do you think I’m hiding?” he asked. He kept his composure, still-faced, not cracking under the pressure of my interrogation.

Pagnarath Tun in 2010

I had recently found a book in his one bedroom apartment, hidden in his nightstand. I had a habit of snooping around where I wasn’t supposed to. In the span of a few minutes, I unintentionally discovered something life-changing. Looking at the brown, hard-cover bound book, I noticed that of the two golden words in its title, ‘Fathers’ was not the one that stuck out to me. “I know you’re not telling me something, and I want you to tell me what it is,” I said. I kept pushing and pushing, repeating myself over and over again. I tried very hard to keep hold of that smile creeping at the corners of my lips, while the feeling of lying and being put in uncomfortable situations washed all over me.

I have gotten better over the years at lying, and keeping secrets, but at this age I was no more than an adolescent kid trying to get her father to spill a secret I already knew. For some reason, it was so important for him to tell me, right now, this very night. I felt as though if he didn’t tell me, and I didn’t force his hand, that I would never get to know. This was my one window of opportunity. Cornered in a car, I was giving my father the third degree, like he was a fugitive keeping secrets for our enemies.

“Alright, I’ll tell you. Kylie-” he said this very plainly, but before he could finish, I cut him off.

“Hey Dad? What are those reflective signs next to people’s driveways and mailboxes for?” I quickly deflected myself, afraid of what he might actually say. I already knew what his answer would be, but I suddenly got so scared that I didn’t want him to say it anymore for fear of it actually being true. I was 12 years old, and I realized that I was more scared of the reality than I was of most anything else.

“Okay, fine. You don’t want me to tell you?” There was a slight irritation in his voice, mixed with subtle anxiety, as if he was just as nervous as I was, but was very good at hiding it.

I tried as hard as I could to compose myself, and keep my heart from sinking and beating out of my chest at the same time. My stomach was in more knots than a messed-up cat’s cradle, and the lace was only getting worse. My throat was going dry, and for a minute there, I just kept telling myself that it was just so easy, that there was nothing to it. I couldn’t have put any more emphasis on the grave importance of him coming clean to me than I already had. In this moment, I was almost at a full-blown panic attack, but I knew that it was right. With all my might, I pushed once more. “I’m sorry Daddy, please tell me,” I pleaded. He was hesitant to my begging, yet proceeded without caution.

“Kylie, I’m gay.” He just said it and came right out with it. There was no holding back, no fear of what I might think or do, but suddenly, I smiled. It wasn’t just any smile, because I was the Grinch who stole Christmas. Through all my hard work, I had gotten him to tell me, and I had won. The corners of my mouth could not be extended any farther than they were in that very moment.

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